Saturday Night And I’m Trying To Write

Saturday, 19 December 2009, 23:18 | Category : BlogStuff, Gardening
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I’ve had this urge to write something since this afternoon. The problem is, I don’t know what to write. It’s like something is in there trying to get out, but it can’t find the way. I blame it on Facebook, where shallowness seems to reign supreme. I know Facebook has it’s uses – I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t heard from in many, many years, and for a while I used it to communicate with my daughter at college, until she decided I was monitoring her activities too closely. I wasn’t, but perception often counts as much as reality, so I pretty much leave her alone now as far as Facebook is concerned. But Farmtown and Farmville and the countless other games and activities there tend to outweight the better points, and I find myself going less and less. It has it’s uses, but like a radial arm saw, not as many as you might have originally envisioned.

One thing about living in the Deep South is that gardening doesn’t have to stop when late fall and winter arrive. Maybe that’s what I was going to write about. I’ve got pansies to plant – and is there any flower with a more inappropriate name than the pansy? Pansies can be coated with ice and resume blooming as soon as the ice melts. You can plant them in September and they’ll bloom until May. That’s one heck of a return on the investment. I’ve also got dozens of tulip bulbs to get in the ground. Mississippi doesn’t generally have enough sustained cold weather to “set” the flower, so we have to refrigerate tulips for 6 weeks or so. And too often I let them stay longer, and end up planting them on a cold, wet January day. The tulips don’t care – they’ll still bloom – but my hands do. I really intended to plant them today, but I worked at our latest Habitat house this morning, and had to run a few errands this afternoon, and once again the day passed with the bulbs still in the frig. Maybe tomorrow, I hear that’s another day.

If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time

Thursday, 17 December 2009, 20:37 | Category : Mississippi
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I would find whoever decided to prune the camellias behind the Governor’s Mansion and stop them. At some point in the past, someone planted a row of camellias behind the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. Japonicas, sasanquas, red, pink, white – there was a really nice variety of camellias, and since they were different types, they were different heights. They were all budded out and ready to bloom. Then, some time in the past couple of weeks, someone did this:

Camellias

I guess they wanted a nice row of small shrubs. But what they had was a nicer row of camellias just about ready for prime time. Why couldn’t they have asked someone before they started cutting?

The Object Of Our Affections

Wednesday, 16 December 2009, 21:58 | Category : Healthcare, Politics
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The attention of the average American has been riveted this week and last, to judge by the news coverage, by the saga of Tiger Woods and his slowly self-destructing marriage and personal life. Day after day, the news media updated us as each new mistress appeared, as each new event unfolded at his home, each sponsor decided to how best to decouple themselves from his falling star. We were kept abreast of his notable absence from the public eye, told that even his friends couldn’t find him.

Meanwhile, in Washington the health care reform effort is turning into a charade. The Senate Democrats are seemingly intent on surrendering the field without a fight, apparently out of fear of Joe Lieberman. What began in the spring with overwhelming public support backing a badly-needed reform of the complex absurdity we call a health care system has turned into a welfare plan for the health insurance industry, with no public option or early buy-in for Medicare, but with a requirement that everyone buy insurance. I think I’d love to have a product that the government said everyone had to buy. Far from providing competition in the insurance industry, by assuring sales this removes any pressure to reduce costs or improve service. How did we arrive at this point? Through a combination of timidity on the part of the Democrats in the Senate and deliberate distortion and scare-mongering on the part of the Republicans. We’ve allowed the “keep the government’s hands off my Medicare” crowd to batter the gates of sense and sensibility with their oversimplifications, misinformation, and plain old ignorance.

And so, this bill will probably pass the Senate, health care costs will continue to rise, and the insurance and pharmaceutical companies will continue to rake in cash from the ranks of a people who apparently are so opposed to health care as the rest of the world knows it that they’ll pay more to avoid it. I feel sick.

What To Read Next?

Sunday, 13 December 2009, 12:15 | Category : Books
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I finally finished Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror”. The length of time it took me was my fault; I mostly read it during lunch, and reading a 600+ page book using hour-long snippets of the day makes for a long literary journey. But, I did finally finish it, after having to beg the library to let me renew it beyond their normal number of renewals. I now know far more about 14th-century France than I ever dreamed I’d know, and it was a fascinating learning experience. But now I’m ready to move on to something else. I think I may look for a novel next, something less involved than Tuchman. I’ve been thinking of reading “Lord Of The Rings” again – I haven’t read the books in over 25 years. Maybe it’s time. Or maybe I’ll grab something short and search for my next major reading project after Christmas. Anticipation!

Christmas Lights

Saturday, 12 December 2009, 20:50 | Category : Christmas
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I love Christmas lights.  I guess it’s the little kid in me, but each year I spent a good deal of time putting up lights and other outdoor decorations.  Not to the point that it makes the evening news, but enough that I enjoy them.  I set up automatic timers that turn on the lights at dusk, so I get to see them when I come home in the evening.  For years, I decorated a small crabapple tree by the front fence with crystal ornaments, but the tree died last year, and it’s replacement hasn’t grown to the point I could decorate it, so the ornaments are getting a year off.  Here’s the result of my decorating this Christmas:

Front lights

I decorate the arbor over the front walk with red ornaments and bows to give a splash of color:

Arbor

And I illuminate my bottle tree by feeding white lights inside the bottles. I like the effect:

Bottle tree

Here’s the effect after dark:

Front lights

Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I like ’em!